Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hopingâ€”believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, â€œThatâ€™s how many descendants you will have!â€ And Abrahamâ€™s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as deadâ€”and so was Sarahâ€™s womb.
Abraham never wavered in believing Godâ€™s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abrahamâ€™s faith, God counted him as righteous. And when God counted him as righteous, it wasnâ€™t just for Abrahamâ€™s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God. Â Â Â Â Romans 4:18-25 (NLT, my emphasis)
Lectionary texts: Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16, Psalm 22:23-31, Romans 4:13-25, Mark 8:31-38
This is one of those passages of Scripture that I want to pat Paul on the back and tell Paul how good it sounds. It’s a real encouragement; an exhortation, in church-y terms. But when read for content in the context of the reality of Abraham’s life story, well it’s a little to the left of truth!
We need encouragement and we need exhortation in the Church. We also need to hear the truth. Paul and the writer of Hebrews (specifically Chapter 11) speak of those who have gone before us as â€œsaintsâ€. Throughout the Bible, we, who believe and seek to be in a good relationship with our Heavenly Father are called â€œsaintsâ€. But that doesn’t mean we are perfect or that we do not stumble or have doubts.
Abraham did not have a written testament, or Bible, like I have. He’s told by God that he will have child, not when he is 30 years old but when he is over 100 years old. Though they may have had limited medical knowledge in that time, they did have some knowledge about where and how babies come! Abraham did stumble in his faith. He created a Plan B and conceived a child, Ishmael, through a servant. He wasn’t convinced that God was going to keep His promise.
There’s a scene at the end of the movie, Evan Almighty, where Evan apologizes to God for fighting Him and not getting on board with His plan sooner. â€œGodâ€ tells Evan â€œBut you did itâ€. And that is the word of truth for me. Yes, the goal is for me to respond obediently to God’s call and commands and stay faithful to that obedience. But if I stumble, if I have doubts, it is the getting back in the game that is important to God. It is building the relationship that is foremost in God’s heart. Like Evan found out, the world is changed through the messengers of God’s kindness, His love.
It is Jesus that fulfills God’s promises to His saints that they would have a relationship with Him. Because of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice, I can move obediently forward toward a righteous relationship with my Father. A â€œrightâ€ relationship with God is characterized with who He is â€“ good, kind, gentle, wise, patient, loving, merciful, serving and giving, â€“ there’s more and I am going to be giving that some thought this week as I read the lectionary texts through again. Will you join me?
Holding On by Jamie Grace (2011)Â